How to say Mail in Mandarin

Always stay polite!

Even in spoken language, it is not easy to know how to address other people. When do I use "you"? When do I necessarily have to address someone with "you"? Sometimes it can be tricky to recognize rules. And yet there are linguistic conventions that most people adhere to. For example, in written communication: A business letter usually begins with “Dear Madam” or “Dear Sir” and ends with the formula “Sincerely”. In the meantime, e-mail has replaced the letter in many areas. And here the linguistic conventions seem to be weakened in business correspondence. The five letters "H-A-L-L-O" in particular cause some people to frown.

The email: in writing or orally?

"Hello", "MfG" - not for everyone!

Eight o'clock in the morning. I come to work, take off my jacket and sit in front of the computer. The first thing I do is open my mailbox: 50 new emails. I click on one after the other and read. Some I answer immediately, others I need more time. Suddenly my reading stagnates: “Hello Ms. Kaisersomeone I don't know is writing to me. With “MfGhe finishes his email. Beneath it is his signature: name, address and telephone number. It's a university professor named Klein.

Why do I get stuck on this email, why is it bothering me? What is wrong with this “Hello”, this “MfG”, “Sincerely”? I also use “Hello”. Even around the clock: I greet my colleagues with “Hello!” And start a conversation. However, I would never start a business email with “Hello”. Because "Hello" for me is a greeting that I use especially in personal conversations with people I know. A “hello” as an introduction to a business email sounds rather impolite to me.

Communication is getting faster and faster

Business communication can also increasingly resemble a conversation

But many see it differently. When I read my emails, I notice that I'm pretty much alone with my opinion: “Hello” even seems to be particularly popular in business emails. How come

In many areas, e-mail has replaced the letter because it is very practical: it saves paper, printer cartridges - and above all, time. E-mail can be used to communicate with one another quickly, easily and without direct personal contact. As soon as you have written an email, the answer is sometimes already in your mailbox. Is it even worth paying attention to linguistic formalities?

Beware of hierarchical faux pas

Due to its speed, the e-mail is often much more like a conversation than a letter: So it happens that many write “Hello” or shorten their closing formula - for example with “MfG” or “LG” for “Greetings”. Many even leave out greetings or closing formulas entirely - not least to save time.

But be careful! In order not to make a mistake, there are two things to keep in mind when writing a business email: the hierarchy and the degree of personal relationship.

Courtesy and personal relationship

If you already know well, you can also write differently

That means: Before I write a business e-mail, I firstly consider what hierarchical relationship I have to the person to whom I am writing and, secondly, whether I might already know the person. For example, I would not write “Hello Mr. Klein” or “Dear Mr. Klein” to the university professor Klein, who also has a double doctorate degree.

Because the salutation “love” or “dear” expresses that I already know this person well. It looks similar with the closing formulas of an e-mail: This is how the formula “best regards” expresses the fact that this person is particularly valued. Despite all of this, “love” or “dear” as well as the closing phrase “best regards” are polite.

A tip for the inexperienced

Despite all the confusion, one thing is certain: e-mails are a linguistic world of their own, which is also evident in the greetings and closing formulas. What some find rude is a strategy for others to save time. The time factor evidently leads to a change in linguistic politeness.

My tip for the inexperienced: It is best to pay attention to the language used by the other person. The first e-mail can therefore correspond to the letter standard. If the other person then writes “Hello” back to me, I can also use “Hello”, but I don't have to. That depends entirely on my personal style.




Work order
Have a look at the leaflet for business emails in your study group at: http://bit.ly/1plwoOg. Use this fact sheet to write a business email to someone you don't know and an email to a friend. Exchange your texts with each other and check where mistakes may have been made.